Stuck in Love (2013)
Stuck in Love (2013)

Genre: Dramatic Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.

Release Date: April 11th, 2013 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Josh Boone Actors: Logan Lerman, Lily Collins, Jennifer Connelly, Kristen Bell, Stephen King, Greg Kinnear, Liana Liberato, Nat Wolff, Alex ter Avest, Katie Garfield

 


 

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t opens with a surprisingly unconventional method of defining attraction – with high schooler Katie (Liana Liberato) having a nosebleed while sleeping at her desk, with Rusty Borgens (Nat Wolff) admiring her from a few tables over. Later, it’s made clear that she suffers from a cocaine addiction and that he has a crush on the party girl. Meanwhile, William Borgens (Greg Kinnear) refuses to give up on his ex-wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), even though she remarried two years ago to a younger, fitter man (Rusty Joiner) – Bill routinely snoops around her house hoping to satisfyingly see the couple argue. His stalking doesn’t go unnoticed, however, and at his Thanksgiving dinner, son Rusty and daughter Samantha (Lily Collins) confront him about his unhealthy obsession and inability to move on with his life.

19-year-old Samantha is a damaged girl, finding success in writing, like her father, but unwilling to engage in a meaningful relationship, after witnessing the way her parents separated. She’s promiscuous, cynical, and severe, refusing to waste time with flirtation or anything that resembles dating; she blames her mother and hasn’t spoken to her since the divorce. Her initial conventions are nearly irredeemable. When fellow student Lou Murphy (Logan Lerman) insists on wooing Sam in the old-fashioned manner, with intelligence, wit, kindness, and romantic activities, she recoils vehemently from his advances, terrified to commit or to give anyone the opportunity to break her heart. He sees their occasionally heated dialogue as sparring; she views it as harassment. When she discovers that Lou’s mother is slowly dying from a brain tumor, her standards change quite suddenly; partly out of pity and partially from succumbing to his charm, she reluctantly agrees to date the boy.

If “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” spoke to audiences because of its nonconformity to conventional raunchy depictions of teenage life and the utilization of overly intelligent outsiders seeking connection, “Stuck in Love” demonstrates a more realistic, harsher take on that same notion of portraying less common adolescent viewpoints. There’s more recognition here for the use of drugs, meaningless sex, and the cold-heartedness of undeveloped minds battling condemnation and regret. Each of the characters start off with societal problems that eventually find love to be the catholicon. Unfortunately, despite the uniqueness of the behavioral botherations, the culmination of each storyline is painfully predictable. But the actors all tackle their roles with authenticity and arresting performances (even down to the minor bit part for Kristen Bell as adulterous neighbor Tricia Walcott), successfully walking the line between dramatic and irritating.

The film wishes to compare and contrast romance versus realism as it applies to relationships. Father and son share the idealistic, fantasy outlooks, while mother and daughter embrace the depressing attitudes of stark truths containing no airy hope; existences that clash as anti-comedy material. Despite the dynamic patterns of characters learning to possess the lighter, more idealistically human qualities necessary for a picturesque romance, “Stuck in Love” is most consistently a drama – and one that goes on for too long. It’s not excessive in details but rather spans a period of time (a little more than one year) that gives the audience time to tire of the cast, especially when their actions are alternately expectedly bitter and formulaically redemptive.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10